Breaking bracken, breaking bread – June 2022 volunteer days

As spring turns into summer, there’s busyness all over elfwoods… In the woodland fledglings are finally flying from their now empty nests; recently born fawns can be seen scurrying amongst the overgrown laurel and rhododendrons; and curious badgers have been spotted strolling in the longer twilight hours. Up on the heathland the gorse pop their seed pods in the afternoon warmth; wolf spiders are hunted by solitary wasps; bumblebees disappear into and gorge on the foxgloves, and you can almost see the bracken grow if you watch for long enough.

Us humans, as part of this ecosystem, are busy too. Earlier in the month we were lucky to receive a visit from a friend who instructed us in scything as a bracken management technique. In previous years we’ve been crushing the bracken, and we’re hoping that scything may be more effective in the long term. With bracken removed the sun shines on bare ground again; encouraging the growth of other heathland plants. Soil on the land at elfwoods is naturally poor, so by harvesting the nitrogen rich bracken for composting, we can later use this in our community garden. “Catch and store energy, obtain a yield, produce no waste” as permaculturists would say.

But it’s not all hard work for our volunteers. As a woodland community it’s also important we take care of ourselves, and each other. We chat, we laugh, take breaks for drinks and share wholesome food and delicious treats.

Those keen on practising woodland crafts have been making benches and a table that looks like some sort of mythological creature, all at the speed of trees: Keeping power tools away, learning how the wood behaves as it’s split by the froe and shaped by the billhook. Knowledge passed on from masters to apprentices since time immemorial.

And with midsummer days, when work for the day is done we cook dinner together, share music, and stay up enjoying late enjoying watching day finally turn into night.

If you enjoy spending your free time in a stunning natural setting engaged in satisfying work with like-minded others, why not join us? Contact us if you’d like to come along to the next elfwoods volunteer day, or join our mailing list below to find out about future volunteer days.